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Protecting Your Water Pipes This Winter

Does your property suffer from frozen pipes in cold weather? Have you checked for leaky pipework or taps?
Preventing or spotting issues early can save you serious money…

Whilst the external mains network is the responsibility of Scottish Water, pipework within your property boundary is usually your responsibility – meaning any leaks could become quite costly.

This guide is intended for individuals with exposed freshwater pipework, which may become frozen – perhaps due to the property location, lack of suitable insulation, or a particular exposure to cold weather.

Unoccupied properties for periods during late Autumn and throughout Winter are particularly susceptible. We always recommend water systems are drained and the Stop Valve / Stop Cock turned off when a property will be unoccupied for any period longer than two weeks.

The highest risk area is typically where the water supply enters a property, so foam tubing or other insulation is recommended where possible and appropriate. Foam tubing can be an inexpensive solution and is readily available from merchants, DIY stores or online suppliers. You may also want to consider replacing aged piping, particularly if you have had previous issues, as the internal seals may be compromised.

Pipes already frozen?
Take immediate action:

  1. Locate the Stop Valve at the property and turn it off
  2. Open all cold water taps and flush toilets to drain the system
  3. DO NOT turn on the hot water taps, as this may cause damage if the pipes connecting to the hot water system are also frozen
  4. Before attempting to thaw out pipes, check thoroughly for leaking joints or bursts. If pipework is ok and it is safe to do so, gently warm any frozen sections by wrapping a heated cloth around the pipe, or perhaps by using a hair dryer at a safe distance to thaw the pipe slowly
  5. NEVER apply a direct flame or attempt to thaw pipes by switching on the boiler
  6. Call a licensed plumber if there is any doubt about what to do.

Pipes likely to become frozen?
Act before low temperatures are expected:

  1. Where possible, consider insulating pipes, water tanks and other associated fittings with suitable products and materials
  2. Where pipework is very likely to freeze, consider installing ‘Trace Heat Cable’, available from plumbing and electrical merchants, electrical component distributors and online suppliers, or have a qualified tradesman fit it
  3. Existing insulation and other anti-frost devices should be checked and replaced as necessary if damaged or worn
  4. Drain any non-essential pipework likely to suffer from freezing, such as outside taps, where an internal supply can be used as an alternative.

If there’s a problem outside your property boundary, please report this to us or Scottish Water straight away.

Whilst your local plumber should be contacted for assistance with leaks or burst repairs at your property, we are always here to provide advice and guidance to get you back up and running. We regularly update our website with the latest guides, FAQs and industry updates. Our friendly customer service team are available by phone: 0330 113 3050 or by email: customerservice@pureutilities.co.uk

Disclaimer – Guidance Sheets are written by experienced Members of the ASSC and other experts. The information in the ‘Guidance Sheet’ is provided by the ASSC for use by Members in support of their own independent business decisions. It does not constitute advice or instruction for which the ASSC can be held liable in any way whatsoever. All Members and other readers remain responsible for the consequences of any decisions taken whether in the light of information gained from this Guidance Sheet or not.

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